A federal judge Tuesday heard arguments from the state and from an attorney representing supporters of independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler over a complaint Maine’s campaign finance laws are unconstitutional in the way they limit the amount of money supporters of independent candidates can donate to campaigns. Cutler is in a race against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and 2nd District Congressman Mike Michaud, D-Maine. In Maine, Republican and Democratic candidates for governor are allowed to collect $1,500 from individuals for their primary contests and $1,500 for their general election contests for a total individual donation limit of $3,000.
The first $1,500, while meant to be spent on a primary campaign, can be rolled over into general election campaign funds, especially when the candidates don’t have any primary challengers, as was the case for Maine’s Republican and Democratic candidates in this year’s race for governor. State law also doesn’t require candidates to refund unspent primary campaign donations.
Jamie Kilbreth, the attorney representing Cutler’s supporters, said Maine’s law was clearly unfair. He also said it was in conflict with several U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit court decisions in other states, including one from Colorado earlier this year.